Do You Grow Cacti: Prickly Love

Do You Grow Cacti: Prickly Love
I have always had indoor cactus, even in college when I was a kid. At that time, it was one of those grafted varieties with a bright pink top and grayish green base. I now know this was likely a moon cactus, but at the time my knowledge was all devoted to things like literature, theology, and philosophy. I worked and went to school full time and didn’t have time to devote to learning about plants. Boy, has that all changed. My first little cactus seemed to thrive in my rather dim dorm room. Interestingly it is a manmade attempt to recreate a natural phenomenon. In the wild such colorful cacti are mutants and eventually the bright top will fall off the base host. It will quickly die as the colored part lacks chlorophyll, essential for photosynthesis and plant survival. That is why the base or rootstock of … Read More

It’s Not Easy Growing Cacti Indoors

It’s Not Easy Growing Cacti Indoors
After ten years of gardening, I have tried growing quite an array of plants. From succulents to giant sunflowers, I am continuously drawn to unique and interesting plants. After having some success growing cacti from seed one season, I decided I would try my hand at overwintering them indoors. Ultimately, my prolonged struggle to help the plants thrive in their windowsill has led me to consider whether or not I would ever try growing cacti indoors again. My Struggle with Indoor Cactus Here in my Kentucky garden, cacti aren’t exactly a common sight. Of course, there are some varieties of cacti that are hardy to my growing zone. However, many types of cactus struggle due to our consistently wet summers, poorly draining soil, and cold winter temperatures. Even so, I could not be deterred when I found a small packet of cactus seeds available through one of my favorite … Read More

Crown Of Thorns Cactus – A Thorny Houseplant That’s Really A Succulent

Crown Of Thorns Cactus – A Thorny Houseplant That’s Really A Succulent
When I was a kid, I got one of those little barrel cactus plants from the grocery store that costs a dollar or two. I thought it was so cute but quickly lost interest. Apparently, I thought a cactus didn’t need any water at all, and it died. As I got older and learned more, I bought and grew a thriving crown of thorns, one of my favorite succulents that is not quite a cactus.  Crown of Thorns Houseplant After killing that little grocery store cactus, I lost interest in plants for a while. I never really got into cactus growing again either. But one day at the garden center, I looked through the cactus area and found a beautiful, thorny houseplant with cheery, delicate flowers. I loved it.  The crown of thorns cactus I bought that day is Euphorbia milli, and it and other Euphorbia plants were tucked … Read More

Schlumbergera Cacti – Fond Memories Growing Christmas Cactus

Schlumbergera Cacti – Fond Memories Growing Christmas Cactus
It doesn’t matter whether it is my Christmas cactus or anyone else’s, as soon as I see one, I am instantly reminded of my paternal grandmother. Her plant was the inspiration behind my small collection of Christmas cactus plants, which are the oldest plants in my household.   Every spring she moved her houseplant, with the flowing stems and segmented leaves, out on the front porch to spend the summer. I can still see it sitting on its table, looking very loose and carefree when our family would visit. I can’t recall seeing it in bloom, however, even though we always made a trip to Grandma’s house near Christmas.  Growing Schlumbergera Cacti I am not sure whether she had the actual Christmas cactus or the Thanksgiving cactus, both in the Schlumbergera genus. For those who don’t grow these plants, the difference is in the edge of the segments. The Thanksgiving … Read More

Fittonia And The Rubber Tree Plant

Fittonia And The Rubber Tree Plant
Houseplants are a lot like people, especially kids. Yes, this might be a controversial statement, but it’s my opinion and here’s why. One of our writers mentioned that picking a favorite houseplant was like picking a favorite child and you simply can’t do it (or shouldn’t anyway). This is absolutely true. Parents love their children equally, or at least they’re supposed to, although I’ve known a few that do seem to favor one child more than another. The same can be said of our houseplants. I have many but love them all the same. That being said, like children, each of our houseplants has certain traits which makes them a little more “special” to us. We still love them equally, but in different ways. Plant Traits and Kids: Fittonia and the Rubber Tree Plant Take my kids, for example. Both are different as night and day; yet, I love them... Read More

How I Met My Dracaena Houseplant

How I Met My Dracaena Houseplant
When I first returned to San Francisco for graduate school, I had no houseplants. I had lived for over a decade in France’s Basque Country where I had an entire mountain of trees and bushes to enjoy as well as a big garden. It felt odd and lonely to be without plants to take care of. As you may imagine, this circumstance did not last very long. Hello Dracaena Corn Plant The very first plant I acquired in San Francisco was a corn plant (Dracaena fragrans). I had actually grown some corn in France accidentally, when corn I put out for the birds and field mice germinated. So, when I saw a plant sitting on the corner of Anza and 42nd Avenue, I thought of my corn at home in France. I walked over and found a man – Jared – with a lot of stuff on … Read More

Generations Of Wandering Jew Propagation

Generations Of Wandering Jew Propagation
My grandma was an avid plant lover. Actually, I come from a long line of plant fanatics, but she had some of the family’s oldest specimens. She gave my mom a cutting of Tradescantia, a common houseplant that roots easily from cuttings. It has a name that is frowned upon nowadays, but I still call it by its original moniker. I hope no one is offended. My mom, sister, and I frequently exchange plants and seeds. One of my most special plants is only a year old, but it is really older. It came from my mom’s wandering Jew (Tradescantia houseplant). That plant started from a cutting of my grandma’s. Grandma passed a few years ago at over 100 years of age. She had the original plant since she was in her 40’s, so it is an oldie.  My sis took a cutting from Mother’s plant about three years ago.... Read More

How I Found My Old Dracaena Houseplant

How I Found My Old Dracaena Houseplant
My oldest houseplant, and probably my ugliest, is a Janet Craig dracaena (corn plant) that my son gave me 25 years or so ago. It’s a rather weird-looking specimen, but it keeps on growing and growing. I don’t have the heart to throw it out. This poor plant is just never completely happy. No matter what I do, the leaves turn brown and dry. It’s dusty here in farm country, so every so often, I wipe the leaves gently with a moist cloth. (I should probably mention here that the plant was no happier when we lived in rainy western Oregon. In other words, my infrequent dusting isn’t solely to blame).  I’ve tried everything to help my poor Janet Craig. I leave the watering can out for a few days so the chlorine can evaporate. I irrigate using room-temperature water. I fertilize lightly during spring and summer. There are no... Read More

Fragrant Plants For Indoors – Top Houseplants That Smell Good

Fragrant Plants For Indoors – Top Houseplants That Smell Good
If you love the scent of fresh flowers, grow fragrant plants for indoors. Their bright to intoxicating aromas will freshen the home and add a note of the outdoors. Houseplants also purify the air, removing toxins and emitting oxygen and moisture. Try some of these best smelling houseplants for fragrance and beauty in your home.  Houseplants That Smell Good Houseplants give and give. With their ability to cleanse the air and lasting beauty, plants bring the outside in and provide a natural way to scent your home. You won’t need air fresheners or ozone purifiers to mask smelly odors. Just grow some of the best smelling houseplants around, and I’ll share my favorites below.  Ditch those artificially scented air fresheners and candles. Your houseplants have more than detoxing air in their repertoire. Choosing fragrant plants for indoors helps remove bad odors and replaces them with floral or citrus tones. … Read More